Dental phobia – is it possible to overcome?27 October 2016 Categories: Dental Anxiety
By Dr. Geoff Baggaley
BChD DGDP(U.K.) RCS Dip.Con.Sed(Newc)
Anxiety is a very powerful emotion, in which the body prepares itself for something unpleasant to happen. Dental phobia and anxiety is equally as powerful and this intense emotion prevents a significant proportion of the general public from accessing dental care.
As well as missing out on dental checks and treatment of cavities, these patients are at significant risk from undetected and untreated dental disease. They also miss out on other important checks, such as for oral cancer, and being advised on the current risk factors in dental disease.
Overcoming dental phobia
If you have dental phobia or anxiety, the first step is to talk to your dentist about it. If your dentist knows how you’re feeling, they can make a special effort to help you feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible. However, if your anxiety is beyond your control, there is help available. In my experience, even people who have extreme fear about dental procedures can learn to get over their fears and receive dental treatment in a manner that feels calm and safe.
Dental Conscious Sedation
Dental conscious sedation is a method by which dental care can be provided in a calm and controlled environment and the patient remains relaxed and comfortable. For adults, conscious sedation is usually delivered by the use of intravenous sedative agents administered through a tube that is gently placed into a vein in your arm or in the back of your hand. As well as remaining relaxed, the patient often has little or no memory of the procedure. Sedation also changes your perception of time, so even long procedures will feel like they have only taken a few minutes.
This method is predictable, reliable, and extremely safe. Each patient is given a full assessment by our experienced sedation practitioners a week before the procedure to ensure that they are suitable. The procedure is discussed comprehensively in order for the patient to understand every step of the planned course of treatment. Once approval is given, the process of administrating the sedative is designed specifically for the individual being treated.
Due to the effects of the sedative medication used at The Raglan Suite – called midazolam – conscious sedation is particularly useful for the following clinical situations:
- If a patient is particularly anxious about any form of dental treatment
- Very effective in the provision of more invasive forms of treatment such as complicated dental extractions and other forms of surgery.
- Especially helpful in the provision of lengthy treatments such as root canal treatments and implant placements.
- Another effect of midazolam is assisting the suppression of the gag reflex, however this often makes it difficult to provide treatments to the back teeth and those that involve taking impressions.
We are also able to provide sedation for our anxious younger patients in the form of inhalation sedation. This is where a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide provides an acceptable degree of sedation to enable dental care to be provided. Again, each patient is individually assessed to ensure the planned treatment is appropriate.
So in answer to the question – can you overcome dental phobia? The answer I believe, is yes! Having provided conscious sedation for over 25 years, I can personally endorse how even the most anxious patients can be treated successfully and long-term. Through positive dental experiences, we regularly convert an “anxious” patient to a “non-anxious” patient so that treatment using sedation no longer becomes necessary for them.
Dr. Geoff Baggaley
The team at The Raglan Suite are always happy to answer any questions you may have in relation to our sedation services. You can send us a message in complete confidentiality through our online contact form. If you would like to book a consultation with Geoff, please call 01423 565432